Decluttering: Donating Old Clothes to Charity

Yesterday my family and I did something that had been haunting us for a long time. I’ve long been a hoarder – trying to reform myself – and doing this kind of thing is difficult, but still. I donated all of my children’s old clothes to charity. This fits nicely within my goal of decluttering our house.

My children are now 4 and 7, and growing like weeds, and we generate a lot of clothes that are barely used and we will never, ever need again, so instead of trying to sell them, we donated them.

Donating Kid's Clothes to Charity
These boxes would NOT fit in my Subaru.

I usually try to sell everything; when you’re trying to pay down a mortgage, every dollar counts. That being said, and as my wife wisely said, it could take years to get rid of that stuff on Kijiji and eBay, and we would not make much money.

Decluttering and Charity are Good for the Soul

Moreover, a lot of these clothes were donated to us, mainly by my sister, who has kids just a bit older than ours, so giving to charity would be paying it forward and good for the soul.

It’s crazy how just getting rid of 6 boxes of old clothes and 2 massive garbage bags would make a difference, but a part of the basement now seems clear after years of clutter. There is still a long ways to go, but we are going in the right direction!

Of course, getting rid of boxes of stuff that’s already been sorted and for which there is a market, so to speak, is easy. The rest of the decluttering is going to take some doing.

Product Reviews

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce at Costco: Product Review

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce from Costco; 970 ml, $6.49, Made in USA, salty and sweet and delicious, great for pork, chicken and beef

Besides saving money and decluttering my home, one of the things I most enjoy doing is writing product reviews for things I purchase. I’ve already spent the money, so everyone might as well share in the knowledge! Today I will be writing a review for the Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce I purchased at Costco a few weeks ago, before the Ice Storm. I just got around to finally using it, and as planned I make Teriyaki chicken.

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce from Costco
Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce from Costco, 970 ml, $6.49

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce: First Impression

First, the basics. This sauce is sold in a 970 ml bottle, so almost a full liter, for $6.49 Canadian dollars, at Costco. The sauce is made in the USA and I purchased it at a Costco in the Montreal, Canada area. At first glance, this is a really good price for a marinade sauce, because you don’t really need that much when you cook. For just a few dollars, I can enjoy Teriyaki Chicken all summer!

But will I, though? Here’s the kicker: I found the sauce to be a bit thick for a marinade. Probably good when you add it at the end of cooking, cooking a bunch of chicken soaked in the stuff made for a challenging experience, even though the result was satisfactory in terms of taste.

Turns out that the sauce thickened A LOT during cooking, and I didn’t want boiled chicken, so I had to drain the sauce several times. I almost certainly would have been better off grilling the chicken first, then adding a BIT of sauce at the end, for flavor. Marinading was not required, I think.

Marine Bay Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients

Looking at the ingredients, we can tell that the Marinade Bay people take their products seriously. There is not a single unpronounceable ingredient in there, and while I’m pretty certain that the various vinegars act as conservation agents, there is nothing artificial in here. Moreover, several of the ingredients are organic, which is great. The product itself is not labelled as such, as all the ingredients are not organically sourced, but still, a long way in the right direction, and kudos to them.

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce Nutrition Facts

Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce Nutrition Facts

Considering the ingredients list, I’m pretty surprised at how not unhealthy this sauce actually is. I mean, sugar is the third ingredient and concentrated pineapple juice is the fourth, and these are pretty sweet, so I would have expected much more calories per portion.

Granted, the portion size is a single tablespoon, but still.

An area of concern here would be the salt content, 220 mg or 9% of your daily allowance, but with this type of sauce, it is to be expected, both really sweet and really salty at the same time. The good news here is that there is no fat and no cholesterol, which is awesome.

In Conclusion: Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce at Costco

I look forward to trying out this sauce as a cooking sauce and not a marinade. I was fooled by the name of the company, Marinade Bay, and I was not too pleased at the result. Moreover, I’m used to the teriyaki sauce in restaurants having a different texture, so perhaps I was biased here.

A few things are certain: the price point of the Marinade Bay Teriyaki Sauce from Costco, at a mere $0.66 per 100 ml, is right on target. The natural, and sometimes organic ingredients are a plus, and all in all, the taste was very acceptable.

I will update this review once I have used the sauce again under different circumstances.

Now the question is, will this sauce become a staple of Costco, or is it destined to be one of those sauces they have a pallet of, sell and then is never seen again? Only time (and sales) will tell!

One-Month Challenge

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Ice Storm

This is going to be a short update, because I have to get to work, but I’m not going to skimp out on the details too much. A lot has happened in the last few days, all of it caused by a meteorological phenomenon called an ‘ice storm’.

In a nutshell, this happens when it rains and the outside temperature is just at the freezing point. The rain just freezes on everything. It’s very pretty, but also heavy, which means A LOT of broken trees, which fall on power lines, which cut power to entire regions – not just neighborhoods or streets. On April 8th, at night, over 315,000 households were without power in my neck of the woods. That’s a lot of people.

I have a sump pump in my basement to evacuate water as it rises, but because of the lack of power, it wasn’t working, which required me to purchase a water-pressure based pump, which was a complete waste of money because I was too stressed out to install it correctly. In the end, we only got minor flooding and damage, but the expense and the clutter remains.

I ended up spending $77.76 at the Home Hardware for that stupid pump, and every penny of it was a waste, and additional clutter for me. As discussed with my wife, we will return what we can and throw out the rest, as well as the now defunct garden hose (which will need replacement).

I also spent $27.75 taking the kids out to the restaurant, where the food was warm and plentiful, as opposed to home, where everything was room temperature.

We were out of power for about 30 hours, and surprisingly we did not lose anything in terms of food. We did not open the refrigerator or freezer a single time, and even the chicken and cheese I had bought at Costco the day before were still okay.

This has been an exhausting week so far, but the kids took it well, we didn’t spend too much and managed not to add to the clutter. I look forward to purchasing and installing a gas-powered generator in the near future.

One-Month Challenge

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Update 2

We have now been on our One-Month Clutter Challenge for 8 days, or 26% of the month, and I am happy to report that the only ‘clutter item’ we purchased was a Dragon Pen, meant as a little gift for our son, as he loves to write.

As you can see in the chart below, we have spent so far this month $422.16 on groceries, and $45.04 on restaurants.

Monthly Budget Excel Sheet for One-Month Clutter Challenge
This month’s budget is looking good so far!

The groceries can be divided into a single Costco bill of $290.49 and a visit at another grocery store for $131.67. For the Restaurant category, we have $37 going towards a Spaghetti Fundraiser and $8.04 for some chicken wings for lunch.

If we were to keep that level of spending for the entire month, we’d end up with a total monthly spending amount of $1752, which is pretty much on target with our monthly budget.

I’m actually anticipating that our spending will drop for the rest of the month, as I don’t think I’ll make 3 other shopping trips of this magnitude at Costco. Usually I’m good for about $150. Neither my wife nor I have put gas in the cars yet, so we’ll have to see.

If possible, and I may regret those word later, I would like to keep it under $1300 for this month, so as to catch up from last month’s budget disaster.

As you can see, I’m pretty organized; I didn’t make that Excel sheet just for the article, I’ve been using it for years, and it has really help me manage my money more efficiently.

Do you do a monthly budget, and if you do, how do you manage it in the day-to-day, and if not, well, why not? Please let me know in the comments below!


Clutter Removal: One Good Habit To Form

If you feel like clutter has taken over your life, you are not alone. Myself and millions of other people feel that way at every moment of their lives. It can be because you’re a hoarder, even a small-scale one, or simply because you or people you live with are messy.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to be messy, but not to let the clutter and the mess take over your life!

In my case, I would say that I’m a small-scale hoarder. I used to love having lots of stuff, and it’s certainly not because I was deprived in my youth, quite the opposite. I think it’s in my genes, but that’s a story for another day.

This is NOT the Solution!
This is NOT the Solution!

Having a wife and two little kids at home, it’s sometimes difficult to get ahead of the mess, and this can cause trouble. It can lead to minor family strife and friction, all the way to refusing to have people over because everything is all over the place and you’re embarrassed.

There is no quick fix for this; it requires a complete change of behavior on the part of everyone that occupies the place; of course, you can’t force a four-year old to use the vacuum cleaner, but you can start instilling good habits about picking up after yourself, and lead by example. If your child sees you tidying up, he or she will want to do the same!

The One Good Habit to Form if you want to eventually get rid of clutter, is to always have something in your hands. Look around you, right now: something is out of place. Pick it up and put it away, or throw it out. RIGHT NOW.

The Lively Dollar

Now do this all the time.

As you walk around the house doing chore, or anything else, just pick up one little thing and put it where it belongs. You won’t vanquish your clutter in a day, or in a week, but eventually, if you can stick to this little habit, you will.

Once your home is relatively clutter-free, it will be a lot easier to keep it that way. I know from experience that it is difficult to get your head out of the water when it comes to clutter, but consistency in action, and not adding to the clutter with additional stuff, will go a long way!

Tell me your clutter and decluttering stories in the comments below, I’d love to hear what tips and tricks you use, and put them to the test!

One-Month Challenge Shopping

One-Month Clutter Challenger: Update 1

Well, that was quick.

My family started the One-Month Clutter Challenge yesterday, on April 1st, and we have already failed! My wife only remembered after making a purchase that we were on that challenge. To be fair to her, we’ve never done anything like that before, not by choice anyways, so it’s a habit that we all need to take.

Moreover, the transgression is small and cute; our son, who is 7 years old, loves writing stories – I guess he takes after his old man! – and to motivate him, my wife bought him a novelty pen shaped like a dragon. It’s actually kind of cool and it doesn’t feel too cheap.

The Infamous Dragon Pen

The Infamous Dragon Pen, cause of our Downfall.

We are still doing really good on the One-Month Challenge Front; besides that pen, we have purchased exactly nothing this month so far; granted, we’re only the 2nd, but we take our victories where we can find them!

While this purchase was only $5.74, the idea behind the One-Month Clutter Challenge is two-fold: on the one hand, we avoid spending money while simultaneously selling items to boost cash flow, and on the other hand, we avoid bringing in more stuff, as we have enough. We all have enough.

On both fronts, this pen is a minor transgression; it’s not really clutter, because our son will be thrilled when he received it, and it’s a tiny expense and will not bust the budget.

We’re doing good, but we have to stay on task and not take our eyes off the prize!

If you’ve missed it, here is the previous post about the One-Month Clutter Challenge:

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Day One

Hoarding One-Month Challenge Selling

One-Month Clutter Challenge: Day One

As readers of this blog will know, I sell on eBay and Kijiji as well as other platforms items I already own, in order to clear the clutter and pay the mortgage, at the same time. Both are good for my wife and I’s sanity and peace of mind. We find the amount of stuff that we have accumulated throughout the years to weigh tremendously, not only physically cluttering our home but also mentally.

For the month of April, we are determined to kick it up a notch not only by selling unwanted goods, but also by pledging not to purchase anything that is not food or gas for the car, and that, for the entire month. This means we can do groceries, even in bulk at Costco, but we’re not buying anything we cannot eat. If I run out of body wash, I will finally have to use the small bars of soap I’ve pilfered from hotel rooms 10 years ago!

The goal here is start making a dent on the volume of our physical belongings, which can be overwhelming, and that’s not even counting the warehouse. With nothing coming in for a month and stuff going out, hopefully at an accelerated pace, we should be able to see a visible difference!

This will be tougher than it looks. We are conditioned and encouraged to purchase AT EVERY TURN.

We picked the month of April because no one in the immediate family has a birthday, so no gifts to buy and no parties to attend, and Christmas expenses from last year are all taken care of.

Every few days I’ll be posting an update here about how we are doing, how much money we spend and on what. There could be exceptions, of course. For example, we will buy medication if so required, as well as hygiene products if such are needed, but we shop at Costco, so we should be pretty set already.

Can you take the One-Month Clutter Challenge as well? Let me know in the comments below what you think of my project, and you’d be game to try. I’ll be sharing some exact numbers in the days ahead.


The First Step to Effective Decluttering

As I’ve talked about in a previous post, I’m a recovering hoarder. Okay, perhaps recovering is too strong a word. Let’s say that I’ve finally realized what’s wrong with me, and I’m trying to work through it. Being a hoarder is not easy, and breaking the habit of hoarding is the hardest thing to do, even more difficult than getting rid of what you already have.

To me, the first step to effective decluttering is to staunch the inbound flow of clutter, so that you can start thinking clearly about the stuff you already own and that is creating all that pressure and stress..

First things first: stop accumulating stuff!

Try the one One Month Challenge! Simply don’t buy anything except food for a month. It’s a lot harder than it looks, because there will be times when you think that you absolutely need something, and you MUST buy it! Unless it relates to your health or employability, simply put it off. Tell yourself you’ll buy it next month, when the challenge is over. Think of it as a firearms waiting period, except for stuff; chances are, you’ll realize you didn’t need it in the first place or just forget about it. In any case, it stays in the store and not in your home.

Even reducing the inward flow of things in your living space, rather than stopping it completely, can make a huge difference on your health and well-being. Being conscious of what you’re doing, of every single item that comes in your living space, will provoke thoughts. You’ll start visualizing new items after they’ve been in your house for years, untouched, useless and gathering dust. You’ll think twice and consider each purchase more carefully.

This first step to effective decluttering is simply to stop accumulating; once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to eliminating the overflow that’s already around!

Are you a hoarder, or have hoarding tendencies? What are the techniques you use to keep yourself in check? Share in the comments below!

eBay Selling

How to Sell Music CDs on eBay

Selling music Compact Discs (CDs) on eBay can be challenging, but when done properly, can be a really good source of revenue over the long term. I’ve had some success selling CDs on eBay, so I’ll share with you my experiences so hopefully you can replicate my success. There are no magic bullets here, and it’s a lot of hard work, but if that’s what you need to do to help declutter your house and make some money, then go for it!

Sell those CDs on eBay and make a few bucks!

Before we get into the details of what to do to sell successfully, here are a few points to consider before you get started selling used or new music CDs on eBay.

  • There is lots of competition! Unless you have some really unique and rare stuff, you can expect to be selling your music CDs for not much money – only a few dollars – so this is why it it’s important to get them for as cheap as possible!
  • The CD is a format that is in major decline. It hasn’t hit rock-bottom yet, mostly because so many people are invested with the format, however it hasn’t shown the same kind of resurgence that vinyls and cassettes, to a lesser extent. The pool of people buying CDs is dwindling every day, but thankfully it is still enormous and has a ways to go.
  • Shipping costs are a major problem when selling CDs online. For example, within Canada they can be shipped as a letter for about $5, but shipping to the US is very expensive, almost $9 (Canadian). This is why you are sometimes better off selling CDs as lots rather than individually so the shipping costs can be amortized.

These are the major challenges you will face when trying to get rid of your CDs online; that being said, you should not let that discourage you, there’s still a lot of money to be made!

  • One of the coolest things about CDs is that these days you can buy them for extremely cheap. Never pay more than $1 each, and in many cases you can have them for cheaper than that. You can even find them on the side of the road when people are clearing out their garages, if that’s your thing.
  • Because the acquisition cost is so low, the potential for profit is enormous, but it does require some investment on your time, mainly time and a little money every month, for the eBay listing fees.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your merchandise doesn’t sell at the beginning! The more inventory and listings you add, the greater your chances are at monster profit! Someone might come along that was unwilling to buy one CD from you (let’s say because of shipping) but he’ll buy 20 and spread the shipping costs – but only if you have what he or she wants!

Here is the process I follow when I have a batch of CDs to sell (and boy, do I!):

  • Take good pictures; a minimum of three pictures per CD. I take the pictures with my Google Pixel 2 XL mobile device; they are uploaded to Google Photos automatically, and are easily available when the time comes to create the listings. Take pictures in batches, not one CD at a time, otherwise it’s not worth your time!
  • Do a little bit of research; I check on eBay how much the CD I have has sold for in the past. Don’t be greedy and push for higher, or it might not sell. Price your stuff cheaper than the average, and determine a bottom price under which you will not sell. For example, my bottom price is $9.99, but I’ll accept offers a low as $5.
  • Be honest. If there are cracks in the jewel case, say so, unless you are planning on switching it out before shipping, and even then, make sure you mention it in your listing. Same goes for any other physical defect.
  • Working with two screens and a bunch of windows open, listing a music CD on eBay can take me as little as 5-6 minutes, including taking the picture, assuming I don’t take the pictures one CD at a time. Even if the CD takes a few months to sell, it’s still a good hourly rate.
  • Make sure you use the proper titles and keywords; this is where your research comes in. Don’t be shy about copying, word for word, the title of something that sold well, assuming you have the exact same product. Don’t copy the description or the photos, that’s just lame, but the title is fair game!

When a CD sells, I put it in an envelope if I’m shipping to Canada, or the lightest, smallest box I can find if shipping anywhere else, bring it to the post office and off it goes! It’s okay to be flexible on price, but it’s never okay to lose money on shipping. If you do, you make sure you make it up somewhere else, such as in the selling price. You are not responsible for shipping rates, even though they may hurt your business.

This, in a nutshell, is what I do to sell music CDs on eBay. There more you list, the more you sell, the more you will learn about what works for you and what doesn’t. Some types of music are more popular, some CDs always sell and some never do. Even the ones that don’t sell are part of the mix, as they contribute to bringing people to your listings. Eventually, you may want to list all the ones that don’t sell in a single batch for $1 each, or whatever, and clear them out of your house, making room for something else. I’m a little bit of a work-in-progress hoarder, so making room in the house is important for my family and me.

Please share your comments and success stories in the comments below!


Being a Hoarder is in my Blood, and Driving my Wife Crazy

For the longest time I thought that a hoarder was something you saw on a television documentary, or on the news. An elderly person died and in their house was every single newspaper they’d ever owned, since the 1930s. Perhaps a house was full of garbage, and it made the news. Nothing about the poor souls that lived there, just mountains of junk, to the ceiling.

When my mother passed away, my sister and I, and my father to a certain extent, had to come to the realization that our mother had been a hoarder. Now, not a sad hoarder like those on television… just a regular hoarder. She kept everything that could possibly have had any sentimental value.

She kept her clothes from when she was a child, back in the forties. She kept all her books, including her childhood books. She kept EVERYTHING.

Since she was so organized, we never noticed. We didn’t grow up in a house full of newspapers or garbage, it was pretty normal, no visible accumulation anywhere. It’s only when she was no longer there to manage it all that it became apparent. I don’t think she had a very severe case, but it was definitely persistent throughout her life.

She’s been gone for over a decade, and my sister and I still deal with the aftershocks, mainly a warehouse full of stuff that we have no need for. I am gamely listing things on eBay and Kijiji, trying to get rid of stuff, but it’s a long, difficult process, fraught with emotions at every single item I handle.

I’m afraid that I suffer from the same condition, although I am certainly more willing to admit it than my mom ever did, certainly because of the influence of my wife, who sees all this from an outside perspective. It just seems that no matter how much I sell or dispose of, there is more that comes in; it’s a constant, uphill battle.

I’m better than I was; I don’t collect empty prescription pill bottles anymore (although I find them strangely useful), and I’ve come to see my crazy mess with somewhat fresh eyes.

The Lively Dollar

It is said that feeling distress about possessions, of feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed, is a symptom of hoarding, and if that is the case, then I’m definitely a hoarder. Having anyone but family or very close friends over at home is difficult and requires an inordinate amount of stress and organization to pull off.

With the other classic symptoms of hoarding, I seem to do better; I am able to get rid of possessions, but only so far through selling; throwing out items is still very difficult, but I guess that at some point the junk that’s left will be just that, junk, and nobody wants that.

What helps me is realizing the pain, stress and feeling of being overwhelmed that my compulsion imposes on my family, particularly on my wife. She doesn’t have to deal with that, and it is something that I am able to fix. It’s not easy.

I also have young children; I don’t want, hopefully far into the future, to pass away and leave them a house full of junk that they have to deal with, just like I have to deal with the warehouse now. I am glad to have so many cherished family items, but it would have been nice for my parents to do some pruning before giving us the keys to the warehouse.

As I get to writing the blog more and more, my efforts in getting rid of all that stuff will become more apparent; this website is about money, making it, saving it and putting it to work, and selling all those items will be an additional source or revenue that I will mine for a long time.